Cotswold Ways: Down into Pain­swick Val­ley and back up again to the Bea­con

A var­ied stroll down into the Pain­swick Val­ley and then up to Pain­swick Bea­con and beyond in search of King Ed­del of Glouces­ter

Cotswold Life - - CONTENTS -

Oc­to­ber is the month of Hal­loween, but the ghostly sight­ing we bring you this time is an un­usual one. No high­way­man, monk, or grey lady, this one – but a more royal shade. Pain­swick may be fa­mous for the ghost of King Charles I, who stayed at the Court House dur­ing the Siege of Glouces­ter, but this ghost is far older. His tale takes us into the mists of time to the so-called Dark Ages.

Just be­low the Royal Wil­liam pub at Cran­ham is Ed­del’s Lane. Who was Ed­del? Some say he was earl of Glouces­ter in the years be­fore King Arthur, the only sur­vivor of the vi­cious treach­ery against the British lords at Stone­henge com­mit­ted by An­glo-saxon in­vader Hengist and his hench­men. In Glouces­ter­shire another tale is told. This Ed­del lived a cen­tury later, in the sixth cen­tury, and was king of Glouces­ter. Like other rulers of the British king­doms of the Dobunni, in Cirences­ter and Bath, his task was to hold off the in­vad­ing Sax­ons.

The area was in a con­stant state of war. When the leader of the West Sax­ons sug­gested a par­ley, Ed­del leapt at the chance of peace. The meet­ing was held at Cran­ham. Was it down by the stream near Ed­dell’s Mill? Or up on the Iron Age hill fort on Pain­swick Bea­con? Wher­ever it was, the par­ley was a ruse. The Sax­ons brought wine – as a peace of­fer­ing, they said, but re­ally to get the British drunk. As they slum­bered, the Sax­ons at­tacked. Ed­del man­aged to grab a hedge­post and beat off his at­tack­ers, but he was the lucky one. Most of the no­bles of Glouces­ter were dead and the city was soon un­der at­tack.

This treach­er­ous Saxon vic­tory wasn’t the end of the Dobunni. They held out for another seven years un­til the kings of Glouces­ter, Bath, and Cirences­ter all fell at the Bat­tle of Dyrham, near Bath, in AD 577. That’s another story and another walk!

No longer a king, Ed­del be­came a her­mit in the lo­cale of his de­feat be­tween Pain­swick Bea­con and the Port­way, the Ro­man road to Glouces­ter. There he lived

out the re­main­der of his days, pray­ing for peace for his land and ab­so­lu­tion of his sins. He was buried in a mound on Kite’s Hill over­look­ing the coun­try he’d loved. That mound, Idel’s Tump or Idel Bar­row, is very hard to find among the trees in Pope’s Wood. It’s said to mark the point where the bound­aries of the three par­ishes of Up­ton St Leonards, Pain­swick, and Cran­ham meet. If his bar­row is lost, Ed­del him­self re­mains, a lonely be­cloaked fig­ure haunt­ing the lane that winds down from Pain­swick Bea­con, past the Royal Wil­liam, to Ed­dell’s Mill and Tock­nells Court.

Ed­del isn’t the only king to have ex­pe­ri­enced a sense of loss here­abouts. In 1643 the ar­rival of a Par­lia­men­tar­ian army forced Charles I and his army to re­treat to Pain­swick Bea­con, where they spent a cold and wet night. In the morn­ing, the young Charles, Prince of Wales asked his father when they were go­ing home; the King bleakly told him, “My son, we have no home.” Seven years later, on the run af­ter the Bat­tle of Worces­ter, Charles II is said to have spent another stormy night on the Bea­con. De­scend­ing to a nearby ham­let, he re­ceived such a warm wel­come that he de­clared the place was ‘Par­adise’, a name it has borne ever since! An­thony Nan­son and Kirsty Hart­si­o­tis are Stroud-based sto­ry­tellers and writ­ers. Their books in­clude Glouces­ter­shire Folk Tales, Wilt­shire Folk Tales, and Glouces­ter­shire Ghost Tales. Kirsty is also the cu­ra­tor of dec­o­ra­tive and fine art at The Wil­son, Chel­tenham. An­thony teaches at Bath Spa Univer­sity and runs the small press Awen Pub­li­ca­tions.

ABOVE: Head­ing down to Cran­ham and the Pain­swick Stream

View across to Sude­ley Cas­tle

Lovely Tock­nells Court from the other side of Pain­swick Stream

Sheep in Par­adise

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